The Territorial Force Reserve

A reserve division of the Territorial Force (TF) was authorised by Section 7 (6) of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act, 1913. It was designed to ensure that all units of the TF would be complete in officers, NCOs and men at mobilisation, and to replace wastage after mobilisation. Officers and men would be transferred or appointed to the TF Reserve on the authority of the relevant County Association on recommendation of the unit concerned. Other than for attendance at camps and other training, and for the term of his engagement, the obligations were the same as the active TF.

The establishment of the reserve of each unit was fixed as 33% of each rank (officer ranks below Lieutenant Colonel and all non-commissioned ranks). In practice this was rarely achieved.


The following categories were eligible for service in the TF Reserve:

  • Officers who had accumulated four years’ commissioned service and who were not in the Reserve of Officers or the Special Reserve of Officers. For TF officers, 15 days attendance at annual summer camp would count as a year; between 8 and 15 days attendance would count as half a year.
  • An officer’s service in the old Imperial Yeomanry or Volunteers would also count as long as his service had not ended more than ten years before application to join the TF Reserve and as long as the man had been rated “efficient” during such service.
  • An officer accepted into the TF Reserve would be commissioned into the TF if he did not already hold a commission.
  • An officer would not be accepted if he was not medically fir; or if his character and qualifications were not acceptable; or if he exceeded age limits as follows: Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel or Major, 57 years; Quartermaster or Transport Officer, 50; Captain, 45; Subaltern, 40.
  • Rank and file. Former soldiers of the regular army who had accumulated two years’s service and had no further liability to reserve service could join, including those who were army pensioners.
  • Former soldiers of the Special Reserve who had completed their term of engagement or who had been discharged after not less than four years and who had completed three training sessions could also join.
  • Former soldiers of the Militia could join if they had completed a period of engagement no longer than four years before application (this necessarily ruled out such a man applying later than 1912 as the Militia ceased to exist on 31 March 1908).
  • Men who were serving with the TF or who had been discharged from the TF no longer than two years before application could join, as long as they had four years rated as “efficient”. Service in the Imperial Yeomanry or Volunteers would count.
  • Former members of any other military force of the Crown, who had not less than four years efficient service and whose service had not ended longer than two years before application, could also apply.
  • Up to 22 qualified lorry drivers could apply to join the Mechanical Transport reserve of each Cyclist Battalion. These men would need to obtain a trade proficiency certificate and would be enlisted under the same conditions as those joining the TF Mechanical Transport units of the Army Service Corps.
  • Men living abroad could not join.
  • Men who, having joined the TF Reserve, then had a period of 12 months continuous residence abroad would be discharged on the date that residence reached 12 months.
  • The maximum age for enlistment was 41, other than for serving soldiers of ex-soldiers of the TF who could join at any age as long as they could give at least one year’s service before reaching the maximum age and for ex-regulars who were to join as a Sergeant: they could enlist up to 46.
  • Compulsory retirement age was officers 60 years’ Sergeants 50; Rank and File 45.

Terms of engagement

  • The standard term of enlistment into the TF Reserve was for four years.
  • Men who were serving with the TF could enlist into the TF Reserve for one, two, three or four years at the discretion of the relevant County Association.
  • It was not permitted to re-engage in the TF Reserve other than as above, or if the man was serving in the regular Army Reserve or Special Reserve, who could re-engaged into the TF for four years or up to the maximum age if shorter.
  • Attendance at training camps was voluntary for all officers, NCOs and men. They may be permitted to attend annual camp for between 8 and 15 days if authorised by the commanding officer of their unit and this did not exceed establishment for that unit. While attending camp the officer, NCO or man would receive pay and allowances at the standard TF rate for his rank.

If you have a soldier who served in the TF or TF Reserve you may be interested in where they carried out their enlistment and training. See the excellent Drill Halls project for more information.